The Belly Dance Club at McDaniel College rehearses at a Oct.… (Photo by Brendan Cavanaugh )
When Nawal Qalbi enrolled in a belly dancing class at the Carroll County YMCA five years ago, she never dreamed she would find her calling.
Qalbi discovered the ancient dance form offered not just exercise, but camaraderie.
"I was curious, really," said Qalbi said about signing up for that first class. "I thought I would be going in and be one of the oldest. There were so many women of different shapes, sizes and age groups.
"It was very refreshing to see such a mixture of women in this classroom, and everybody enjoying each other's company. I just got hooked."
She continued her passion for belly dancing by taking other classes and performing for various events. Too often, she discovered, she was headed out of the county — to Baltimore and beyond — to enjoy her hobby.
"I was always having to travel forever and ever," she said. "I really thought it would be nice to have a local staged event. I wanted a good representation of belly dancing."
Last year, Qalbi organized the first Belly Dancing Passionate for Pink fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the national organization that promotes breast cancer awareness, prevention and research.
"We chose the Susan G. Komen to benefit because it is a good cause," Qalbi said. "I'm pretty sure everyone knows somebody who has been affected by cancer."
This year, the second annual Belly Dancing Passionate for Pink is scheduled for next Saturday, Nov. 5, at McDaniel College. The event will offer both professional and amateur belly dancers performing the different types of belly dancing, including American Tribal, Egyptian, Turkish, North African and more.
"I tried to vary it a little bit," Qalbi said of the lineup for this year's event. "If you ever were curious about belly dancing, now is the time to see it."
Many of the performers are friends who share the passion for belly dance as a form of exercise and expression, Qalbi said. A belly dancing club from McDaniel College will be among those performing.
"They don't really have a teacher, so I stopped in and tried to give them some basic moves and guide them in the right direction … to make their dance more authentic," she said.
"It is awesome that she gives us so much of her time," said Paula Senff, president of the college's belly dancing club. The junior environmental sciences major started belly dancing as a freshman at the college.
"I like how it makes you very aware of your body," Senff, 21, said, of belly dancing. "You use muscles in a way you never had before. It is good for you posture because you are more aware of it. It's very beautiful."
Senff said the college's group has been practicing its Egyptian-style dance more frequently to prepare for the fundraiser.
"I'm excited about it," Senff said of the event. "This will be our first time (participating)."
Qalbi hopes to hold the Passionate for Pink every year because it supports a good cause, and brings much-needed attention to the art of belly dance.
"There will be a lot jewels, a lot of bling, a lot of makeup, a lot of false eyelashes," Qalbi said. "It will be great."
The second annual Belly Dancing Passionate for Pink will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, beginning at 7 p.m., in the Alumni Hall at McDaniel College, 2 College Hill, Westminster. Admission is $15 at the door; $10 in advance and $8 with student ID. For more information, call 443-527-7905.